The New York City-based fast-casual chain Dos Toros faces charges of deceptive marketing in a lawsuit that alleges the pork and chicken used at the burrito concept is not naturally and humanely raised, as advertised.
In the lawsuit filed March 24 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, plaintiff Lauren Prescott is seeking class action status, arguing that Dos Toros is violating state consumer protection laws.
Dos Toros prominently states in restaurants that chicken and pork used is “naturally and humanely raised,” but the complaint details practices by suppliers Clemens Farms and FreeBird that amount to animal cruelty, saying the animals were confined and raised in “unnatural” industrial conditions that did not include access to the outdoors.
Citing incidents going back to 2018, the complaint said the U.S. Department of Agriculture has suspended operations at a Clemens slaughterhouse for “egregious inhumane handling” of a pig, who was improperly shot by a captive-bolt gun three times while fully conscious. The pigs were also hit by workers, pulled by the ears and injured by an automatic gate, the complaint said.
FreeBirds slaughter line also had documented incidents of cruelty, saying birds had broken and bloody wings, were boiled alive, or piled on top of each other and suffocated, the plaintiff alleged.
In a statement, Dos Toros officials said, “We have yet to receive the lawsuit but we have recently been made aware of its allegations, which we are taking very seriously. We are mounting a comprehensive investigation of the claims in the lawsuit and will have more to say at the conclusion of that investigation.”
According to the USDA, a product labeled “natural” contains no artificial ingredient or added color, and is only minimally processed. A number of large restaurant chains, from Burger King to Chick-fil-A, promote meat that is raised without antibiotics, or added hormones.
The conditions under which meat is raised is increasing getting attention in the restaurant world.
Investor Carl Icahn, for example, bought a small stake in McDonald’s and has reportedly been pressuring the chain to force suppliers to end the use of cramped gestational stalls. According to Reuters, Icahn has backed a McDonald’s board nominee who plans to push the fast-food chain to tackle other sustainability issues, including the use of antibiotics in cattle raised for beef.
Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]
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